January 24, 2009

Metaphor of the month:

Jack Shafer, in Slate, writes:

“€œNobody in TV news stir-fries his ideas and serves them to the audience faster than MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. Drawing from a larder filled with old anecdotes, unreliable metaphors, wacky intuition, and superficial observations, the always-animated Matthews steers whatever’s handy into the hot wok that is his brain. The sizzling free-associations skitter through his limbic system, leap out his mouth, and look for a resting spot in the national conversation, where they steam like fresh lava in untouchable heaps.

“€œAnything can set Matthews to cooking, but nothing summons his inner chef like a National Event of Great Importance such as yesterday’s inauguration. If you watched MSNBC’s coverage, you understand why Keith Olbermann wears a body apron and totes a fire extinguisher whenever they co-host: to keep the flying grease from setting his suits aflame.”€

The List

Forbes magazine offers up this list of the 25 most influential liberals in the US media. Number 1 is Paul Krugman, the uber-Keynesian whose economic prescription for what ails us is the ne plus ultra of Bizarro World economics: we can spend our way out of penury! Nothing too surprising there. However, scattered amongst the liberal lefty-but-not-too-left bloggers (Kevin Drum, Glenn Greenwald, Markos Moulitsas), is Number 19 “€“ Andrew Sullivan, described thusly:

“€œA granddaddy of Washington blogging and a former editor of The New Republic, he clings unconvincingly to the “€˜conservative”€™ label even after his fervent endorsement of Obama. His advocacy for gay marriage rights and his tendency to view virtually everything through a “€˜gay”€™ prism puts him at odds with many on the right.”€

“€œUnconvincing”€ is putting it mildly “€“ but, then again, Sullivan’s alleged liberalism is equally illusory. After all, here is someone who demanded the US drop a nuclear bomb on Iraq, accused opponents of the Iraq war of being a “€œfifth column,”€ and set himself up as the arbiter of the post-9/11 version of political correctness, which included an attempt to censor poetry he disapproved of as treasonous. Liberal? Not in any meaning of the word I can discern, but then again neither is he conservative, in any sense that the readers of this blog would recognize. He is, instead, a total opportunist, whose opinions vary with the Zeitgeist (as he perceives it), and this is his “€œtalent”€ “€“ an uncanny ability to see where things are going, and get out ahead before anybody else.

Number 14 is Christopher Hitchens, the militant atheist and warmonger, who is in reality a neocon par excellence, a former Trotskyite who “€“ like his friend, Sullivan “€“ is a political fashionista. He turned against Bush II when the public did, and jumped on the Obama-wagon when it was convenient to do so: now he’s an influential “€œliberal.”€ He may be influential, but he’s no liberal “€“ Hitchens is just another neocon who wants to get invited to all the right parties.

My favorite, however, is Number 2—Arianna Huffington, who was unconvincing as a “€œcompassionate conservative,”€ and is a bit more credible “€“ albeit not much “€“ as the doyenne of the Obama-oids. She’s described as “€œthe leading curator of liberal commentary online,”€ and is supposedly “€œcredited with helping put Barack Obama’s bandwagon firmly on its way to Washington.”€ Hmmmm. I think the millions Obama scarfed up from his Wall Street bailout-buddies has a bit more to do with it than the Arianna’s bromides uttered as if they were the Sermon on the Mount. “€œShe has,”€ we are told, “€œan uncanny ability to marry attitude and authoritativeness.”€ Well, that’s one way of putting it. Another is: she has an uncanny ability to marry money.


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